Our Family’s (2nd) Year in the South of France
Kids and Castles - Our year with kids in the South of France

School Starts

The first day of school is so important here that it has its own word – la rentrée.

For us, it was a pretty normal first day of school.  A few tears that went away as soon as mom and dad were around the corner, new friends to play with, new teachers to meet, and new pickup and drop-off routines. The principle of the school speaks English, although neither of the girls’ teachers do.

We met the “other” California family, who have a daughter in Z’s class. The visitor information in the village had told us about them and they got it all right – names, where they were from, ages of kids, etc. They invited us to their apartment for lunch and we were all automatically friends – the joy of all being “odd” in the same way.

When we got home  we checked the backpacks as usual. I had read about the “Cahier de liaison“, the book that is used to communicate what is going on at the school and there it was. I could see something pasted in the book, so I was ready to see my child’s first French school project.  Here is what was in the book:

"Tuesday, September 7th there will be a strike..."

My child’s first school project, which she cut out and glued into the book herself, is a note saying that there will be a strike!!!

We had of course heard all about the famous French strikes. In fact, I have been in Paris four times in my life and four times I have not been able to visit the Louvre because the staff was on “grève” – so it’s one of the French words I know very well. We were very pleased to find out we would have lots of notice, and were also pleased that there was an option to send our kids to a special free daycare provided by the town. What a friendly and unimposing strike!

A few things did surprise me about school:

  • There is no school on WednesdayIt’s a 4-day school week with a break in the middle.
  • You cannot send lunch to school – You have the option to either pick up your kid for the 1 1/2 hour lunch break, or buy a lunch which is organized by the mairie (the town hall). The lunch is very nice – just 2 euros and has a couple of courses. But if you want to make a sandwich it’s not an option because the school closes over lunch.
  • It is “highly recommended” that you buy insurance – Our kids are now insured, I believe in case they burn something down, I’m not exactly sure. But it’s not expensive – less than 10 euros each for the year.
  • There is a bus – We haven’t taken it yet, but all the info is on the web site and I’m looking forward to a nice 5 minute walk to school to drop the kids off and then have a coffee at the cafe in the village before coming home.

8 Responses to “School Starts”

  1. Tiffany says:

    Oh my God Diane, I am dying about the strike thing. Hilarious! Life sounds exciting! – Tiffany

  2. patti says:

    No school on Wednesday.

    How lovely!

    • Diane H. says:

      Yes. We’re using Wednesday to do “English school” at home. I’m not very good as a teacher, but we’re doing some reading and writing in English to keep up.

  3. […] is usually at 8, but there are three nights a week that aren’t school nights (no school on Wednesday) so there are times it can work, and the cafe is very good about serving us […]

  4. Lise Patenaude says:

    Does the other California mom blog about her experience? That would be something!

    • Diane H. says:

      Actually, she doesn’t. Which is funny because both of them are actually real writers. Unlike me who is a mathematician and in university never used vowels.

  5. Martin R. says:

    No school on Wednesday! What a paradise for children… and a big problem for their parents… lol

  6. […] mentioned in a previous post that our kids can’t take lunch to school. However, lunch is provided if you want to pay for it.  Here is last week’s menu at the […]